Spotted on the reef - ocean beauties hidden in plain sight

Frogfish on coral nursery frames, sea slugs dragging themselves along the ocean floor, and eels with toothy mouths wide open are some of the amazing marine life the Reef Rescuers often encounter when working on Cousin Island's coral reef restoration project. While some camouflage well, others stand out due to their size. Here are a few of the best.

Nudibranchs are beautifully coloured and patterned

Nudibranchs are beautifully coloured and patterned


These beautifully coloured, intricately patterned, shell-less sea slugs are a delight to spot for mollusc enthusiasts. Pronounced "noody-brank”, they range in thickness, shape, and length. There are over 3000 species worldwide. Their scientific name, Nudibranchia, means naked gills. These carnivorous animals graze on algae, sponges, anemones, corals, barnacles, and even other nudibranchs. For all their flamboyance, they have short life spans, varying from less than a month to a year.


Not to be confused with nudibranchs, marine flatworms also spot spectacular colours and patterns. They are sometimes called ocean butterflies and come in a variety of colours and sizes. Their soft, flattened, roughly oval body shape gives them their name. Small and hard to spot, they range in length from a few millimetres to a few centimetres. They are active scavengers and predators.

Frogfish are masters of camouflage

Frogfish are masters of camouflage


The aforementioned pink blob belongs to the family Antennariidae, a type of anglerfish. Despite being found in almost all tropical and subtropical oceans, they are not easily spotted due to their exceptional camouflage abilities. They change their colour and texture to mimic their surroundings, making them nearly invisible to both predators and prey. In some cases, they resemble corals, sponges, or other aquatic life.


Stunning but venomous, the Red lionfish can be found on coral reefs throughout Indo-Pacific. It is native to Seychelles. Its vibrant colours make it a captivating sight, but divers need to be cautious of its spines.

Moray eels

A day with a moray spotted is a day well spent. The secretive moray eels live among reefs and hide in crevices during the day. They come in many sizes and are usually vividly marked or coloured.


What they lack in colour, octopuses make up for by being tenta-cool. The eight-limbed soft-bodied molluscs can alter their shape radically to squeeze into tiny nooks and crannies on the reef. They use camouflage to hide when threatened, changing their appearance to match their surroundings. One even tried to look like outplanted corals!

Can you see me An octopus tries to look like outplanted corals

Can you see me An octopus tries to look like outplanted corals

Reef Manta Ray

There is nothing more surreal than watching one of the world's largest rays swim next to the coral nursery. The big-bodied reef manta ray with two triangular-shaped pectoral fins is found in the tropical and subtropical Indo-Pacific in shallow waters along coastal reefs.


These tiny fish are named for their heads that resemble a horse. You can find them upright in seaweed and sea plants. Their tails anchor on objects. One was spotted anchored to the nursery. Their numbers are in decline due to being targeted for use in traditional medicine and the aquarium trade.


Take a closer look at corals and you'll be amazed at their beauty. Corals come in a variety of shapes, colours, and sizes, and it's fascinating to see their different patterns, which give some of them their common names. As an example, Hydnophora is called the lemon squeezer coral because of its shape, while Platygyra is called the maze coral because of its maze-like twists and turns, and Gardinoseris has honeycomb-shaped corallites.

Our History

Since 1998.

Seychelles Nature, Green HealthClimate Change, Biodiversity Conservation & Sustainability Organisation

@CousinIsland Manager


Roche Caiman, Mahe


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Centre for Environment & Education

Roche Caiman,

P.O. Box 1310, Mahe, Seychelles

Tel:+ 248 2519090